T C PHL610 • Problems of Knowledge and Valuation
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
First semester: Moral theories and problems. The aim of this semester is to consider some of the classical philosophical theories of morals propounded by David Hume (f. 1750), Immanuel Kant (f. 1780), and John Stuart Mill (f. 1860), and then to apply them to some current moral problems (for example, capital punishment, torture, animal rights). We will try to improve our views on these problems and consider how theory and practice can interact constructively. Course materials and work will be channelled through Blackboard.
About the Professor Mark Sainsbury taught at the University of Essex, Bedford College London, and King's College London before coming to the University of Texas at Austin in 2002. He has written five books (Russell, Paradoxes, Logical Forms, Departing from Frege and Reference without Referents) and is currently working on his sixth: Fiction and Fictionalism.
There will be eight 15-minute in-class tests, each generating 5% of the total marks. Three short essays, around 1000 words each (10% each) and a term paper, around 4000 words (30%) are also required. Deadlines for these assessed pieces of written work will be announced no later than the first day of classes. There will also be attendance quizzes: failures lead to mark deductions.
The main text will be Steven Cahn and Peter Markie (eds): Ethics: History, Theory and Contemporary Issues, Fourth Edition (2005). Everyone should also read A. Martinich's Philosophical Writing (preferably 2nd edition) within the first month of the course, though it will not be discussed in class.
Background readings: Jostein Gaarder: Sophie's World. This is a history of philosophy in the form of a novel. Especially useful in gaining an orientation to our philosophers and their topics within a broader framework. Peter Singer, Practical Ethics. This provides good supplementary material on the more applied part of the course.